Do your leadership skills need a tune-up?

photo-640Everyone, meet Watson.  Watson, meet everyone.

Watson is what we affectionately call our Honda Element.  (Element… elementary… Watson).  It’s a great car that has served us well.  Recently we had to get the brakes redone and transmission flushed, but that’s all part of owning a piece of machinery like this.

It’s like my Dad would say… if you want something to last, you have to take care of it.  If we want Watson to be ready when we need him, we’ve got to take care of him.

See where this is going?  If we want our employees to last and be ready when we need them… I’ll let you finish that statement.

In all cases, this takes people who are qualified to perform the work. For Watson, that’s a mechanic.  For your employees, that’s YOU!

Do you FEEL qualified?  Most newly promoted leaders don’t, but they also don’t know what steps to take to remedy the situation. (Don’t feel bad, in many cases your manager doesn’t know how to fix it, either.)

Here are some things to think about (and talk to your manager about!):

  • Are you actually qualified?  Mechanics (the good ones) take classes and attend update and recurring trainings to keep their skills sharp.  What books, classes or seminars can you experience to hone your skills?  Is there someone you know that you can seek out as a mentor or coach?
  • Do you have the right tools?  A hammer won’t do you any good if you need a wrench.  What tools (skills, abilities) do you need in your tool box to effectively lead your teams?  (Look at the things you dislike to do the most – that’s a good starting point.)
  • How well do you use your time? When I first called the mechanic, they said they couldn’t get Watson in for another 3 days.  Do you have a good handle on how you spend your time, where it goes and how to maximize your efficiency within the time you have?
  • Are you a good problem solver?  When I first brought Watson in, I explained what the brakes were doing (according to me).  The mechanic then had to look at all of the surrounding factors and circumstances to determine the right solution. Are you able to identify the needs of your employees so you can provide them with what they need?  If not, what tools or skills do you need to be able to do that?

Leaders (the good ones) are constantly looking at ways to get better at their craft, and that means seeking out opportunities learn, grow, and be better at your job than you were yesterday. Some of your skills might be right where they need to be, others may need some attention, and that’s okay.

Cars keep changing, so mechanics have to continue learning just to keep up.  Your job as a leader ain’t that different.

Thanks for reading!

Matt

About the author: Over the last few months, I’ve taken my desire to Help Leaders Lead to the next level.  Along with my book about employee engagement and burnout, I also now offer professional coaching services and self-directed leadership development courses.  Oh, and don’t forget the FREE eBook I’m giving away on my homepage!

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I don’t care about $2

NOTE: This is Part 1 of a series of posts inspired by 40 very active hours of travel on  March 13-14, 2015.  There will be at least 3 more entries in this series.


I don’t care about $2.  I do care about employees who don’t feel like they are being listened to.

On a recent trip to the airport, I stopped at the curbside check-in to drop off my bag.  I was met by Erin, who asked for a drivers license and credit card.  The following conversation ensued.

Me – (confused about why she needed a credit card) “I actually paid for my bag online.”

Erin – (sounding exasperated) “I know, but there is a $2 fee for checking in out here.”

Me – (trying to be funny/sympathetic) “Well that stinks.”

Erin – “Yeah, it’s supposed to be a convenience fee for not going inside.  We’ve complained about it, but no one listens.”

Me – “I hate to hear that.”

Erin – “Yeah, they don’t listen to the people actually doing the work.  They sit in their ivory tower and make decisions that we have to deal with.  That’s corporate America, nothing we can do about it.”

You could hear the resignation in her tone.  Here is an employee with a voice, with something to say, and no one is listening.  Or at least that is her perception.

And of course, that perception is Erin’s reality.

Erin dutifully printed my boarding passes and my receipt for the $2.  As she handed the documents to me, she said with a wily smirk and a chuckle, “and here is your receipt for the $2.”  Then she very pleasantly wished me a safe flight and a nice day.

How hard is it to listen to someone?  How tough is it to spend the time to pay attention to what the front line employees are saying?  It’s not hard and it’s not tough.  But it does take time and an open mind – two things that seem to be in short supply these days.

As a leader, we have choices about where we focus our time, our energy and attention.  If you think that listening to your employees is not worth your time, think about this.

Dr. Rick Bommelje, one of the foremost authorities on listening and leadership, has studied the emotional impact of being listened to for years. He has found that the feelings of being listened to are so close to that of being loved that most people can’t tell the difference.

Whoa.

So when you listen to your employees, or even if they PERCEIVE that you are listening, they will get the feeling that you care, and won’t feel like my friend Erin. Defeated and unengaged.

Even if that $2 is the difference between financial success and failure, Erin doesn’t know it.  Because she doesn’t know it, she doesn’t care.  That impacts how she explained the fee to me, and how this blog post got written.

Had she said, “I understand, and am sorry you didn’t know about the fee.  It’s for the convenience of avoiding the long lines inside.  We can get you through much quicker.”

That would be worth $2, right?  But I am NOT calling for the retraining of Erin.  I am calling for Erin’s leaders (and everyone like them) to listen to your employees.  Again, even if you keep the fee, let her know WHY you have the fee, why it’s important and why it is beneficial to the guests.

As a leader, you want that $2, right?  You’ve got to earn it… not just by tacking on an extra fee, but by listening and communicating with your employees.  That’s the REAL focus of your job.

Thanks for reading… now go listen!

Matt

 

 

 

About the author: Matt has written about broken policies with the airlines before.  As it so happens, the airline in this situation is one of the guilty parties.  Maybe the execs aren’t listening to their employees about that fiasco either.

 

 

New promo video

Howdy friends!

Wanted to share a new promo video I recently added to my website.  If you like it, feel free to “like” it, link it, share it, or tweet it!

If you don’t like it, at least is was only 1 minute and 48 seconds!

Big thanks to Charlie with the North American Farm Direct Marketers Association for providing the footage!

Thanks for watching!

 

Matt